Rick called up just as she was to board the flight.
“There has been a disaster!”
“We are not being allowed on board. We need a visa to change flights in Kuala Lumpur”
“Oh, that can’t be true, it is a transit flight”
“I don’t know what is happening. They say we need a visa to enter and exit the low cost terminal”
“That is not possible; it’s just for a few hours. We will not get out of the airport”
“I know, I know. We have been telling them. But they are not allowing us. THEY ARE NOT LETTING US BOARD.”
That was Friday, the 24th of Dec at 4 PM. 5 hours to board my Air Asia flight to Bali via KL.
The next 4 hours was a marathon of phone calls to and fro - checking options to change flights, reschedule to get a Malaysian visa, change travel itinerary to start on 29th Dec.
We rescheduled the whole trip.
The big question was how soon we could manage a Malaysian visa. Because everything, everything depended on that.
I found out in Mumbai I could get a visa in 2 days through VFS. My friend would have to go to Chennai (from Bangalore) to get their visa.
And here too another blow. Chennai’s Malaysian consulate was closed on Monday. We had only Tuesday to get a visa. Just one day.
The whole trip hinged on that.
And another blow. Train tickets to Chennai were booked. So, was Tatkal. The girls decided to brave the bus with blankets at ‘sub zero’ temperature as they say. Anything for New Year’s at Bali.
We practiced stories.
“Tell them it’s your marriage”
“Sure, and I made this colossal mistake and travel by a low cost flight”
“Say your sister is pregnant”
“What about Su, Whose sister will she become?”
“It is your best friend’s wedding and you two are the bridesmaid”
We’ve heard conflicting experiences from applicants to Chennai’s Malaysian Consulate. Most said visas are given in 2-3 days only; no way were we getting visas in a day (heart palpitations, prayers start). Some claim it is possible if you plead in person. Plead they did.
Tuesday morning. I sit with worry and clenched fist at work. Richa calls up. And in the past couple of days whenever she has called, it has been some bad news.
“One minute back we were ready to call off the whole thing.”
“So what, tell me fast?”
“We’ve made it. They accepted our visa application”
“Yippeee, what did you guys do?”
“We leaned over the little window, cried, wept and entreated, sir please give it to us on humanitarian grounds, and he says, so the rest are animals or what? That is not what we meant sir. Sir, sir. Sir, groveling on and on. He finally says alright, just submit and scoot.”
Will we ever forget this trip (of course, if we ever make it)?
For your info: Air Asia is a point to point flight. You will need a visa if you land in a country which provides no visa on arrival, even if it just few hours within the airport. The same is not the case with full fare airlines like Malaysian Airlines which may provide transit facilities.